Arizona State Parks and Trails Hosts Winter Photo Contest
Arizona State Parks and Trails is inviting photographers to participate in the Opt Outside Photo Contest. Running through January 15, the contest aims to celebrate the state’s natural beauty and encourage outdoor adventures during the winter months.

Open to both amateur and professional photographers aged 18 or older, the contest requires all submissions to be captured within Arizona’s more than 30 state parks. Entrants can compete in five categories: Living Creatures, Friendly Faces, Outdoor Activities, Landscapes, and Arizona History. These categories are designed to spotlight the state’s diverse flora, fauna, and cultural heritage.

The competition offers an excellent platform for photographers to exhibit their skills while emphasizing the significance of conserving Arizona’s natural and historical resources. Contestants are encouraged to explore the parks and share their unique perspectives and experiences.

Prizes await winners in each category, with a grand prize for the overall contest winner. This grand prize includes a two-night stay in a Pin Drop micro-camper, a cave tour for two at Kartchner Caverns State Park, an Arizona State Parks annual pass, a $15 REI gift card, and an AppreciateAZ gift box. First-place winners in each category will receive an Arizona State Parks annual pass, while second and third places will get day-use passes. Additionally, all winners will be awarded a limited-edition sticker and AppreciateAZ water bottle.

A panel of judges will evaluate entries based on creativity, composition, and storytelling within a state park setting. Participants can submit up to five entries across multiple categories. Winners will be announced in February. For submission guidelines and detailed contest rules, interested individuals can visit
MCACC Rolls Out Free Microchip Program to Tackle Stray Dog Crisis
In a bid to reduce the number of stray dogs and alleviate shelter overcrowding, Maricopa County Animal Care & Control (MCACC) is offering free microchips for dogs at both its East and West shelter locations through December 29. The service will be available Monday to Friday, from noon to 4 p.m.

This year, MCACC has seen a surge in stray dog intakes, totaling nearly 13,000 animals. “With over 900 dogs, we’re out of kennels,” says an MCACC representative. “Most stray dogs lack any form of identification, making it difficult to reunite them with their owners.”

The simple procedure of microchipping, which involves implanting a chip between a dog’s shoulder blades, greatly increases the likelihood of reuniting lost pets with their owners. MCACC aims to microchip 1,000 pets by the end of the year to help keep more dogs with their families.

Pet owners interested in this free service are encouraged to register online prior to visiting the shelters located at 2500 S. 27th Ave., in Phoenix (West Shelter) and 2630 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., in Mesa (East Shelter).

A microchipped dog, if found by a Maricopa County Animal Control Officer, can directly return home the same day. If contact with the owner is not possible, the dog will be held at the shelter for a minimum of five days, offering more time for reunification. For more information, visit
Harkins Theatres Introduces “Secret Cinema”
Harkins Theatres has launched an exciting new venture that will leave moviegoers buzzing with anticipation. Enter Harkins Secret Cinema – a thrilling monthly event that promises an exclusive sneak peek at a mystery film, shrouded in secrecy until the moment the lights dim. Movie enthusiasts can look forward to a suspenseful surprise every month as Harkins Secret Cinema unveils an unreleased gem on the big screen. The catch? The title of the film will remain a closely guarded secret until patrons take their seats, with only the film’s rating serving as a tantalizing clue. This cinematic experience comes at a reduced price of just $5, which is more than half off the usual adult ticket price of $12.50 for an average evening showing at Harkins. For more information, visit